prague banner

travel prague.

your Prague guide by someone who lives here

What Do You Really Need To Know About Prague?

I live in Prague and I feel comfortable in Prague. I can walk down any street, into any restaurant, at anytime time of day or night. For me all the little quirks and oddities of the culture are natural. The waiter is bringing me beer without my asking - that is normal. The lady selling me cheese is being quite rude - that is normal. On a crowded street a mother is holding her 2 year old son by the legs in a toilet sitting position above a sewer as he relieves himself - that is normal.

The fearsome aspect of visiting a foreign city is not being sure what is normal. There is the constant need of alertness. Constant diligence to avoid a minor faux pas or the dreaded international incident.

Last year I visited Istanbul. It was a culture shock. I was not prepared. I did not know how to present myself in front of others, did not know what the norms are, or even how to say hello. Should I shake hands or bow, is it rude to wear sunglasses indoors, am I offending by wearing jeans in the mosque? I came to a quite street but was too frightened to go down it. Was I allowed to be there, would somebody start shouting at me from a window? I noticed restaurants occupied by locals but did not go inside because I did not want to risk breaking some unknown social rule. Should I take my shoes off, should I walk in wave my arm and say hello to everybody, can I sit anywhere I want or is one table traditionally reserved for the holy spirit of Acklabar? I had no idea. All these worries and that is before I even sat down. To avoid making a fool of myself I stayed away. I was clueless to everything so I did nothing. I limited my visit to tourist spots.

I did not experience the real Istanbul because of my ignorance.

The question is, how much do you need to know about Prague to avoid my mistake? What do you need to know before you arrive to experience the real Prague? It depends on what type of traveler you are.

The Under Prepared Traveler Finds Out Upon Arrival (this is not you)

The ‘surprise me’ traveler does not care what country they are in. They choose destinations with the spin of a globe. They pack a passport, underwear, toothbrush, jeans, t-shirt and a sweater. Depending on the temperature when they arrive they will either put on a sweater or take off a shirt.

They do absolutely no research about their destination. They want it to be a surprise. They come out of the airport wide-eyed and confused. The first question they ask is “where is the main part of the city?”, the second question is “what do people do around here for fun?”. After getting acquainted with their surroundings they start to ask historical questions, “how old is that building?”. Slowly, randomly, they bump around and accumulate knowledge. They never end up knowing too much and the trip finishes as a blur of buildings, people and dates.

There is inherently nothing wrong with this kind of travel but it takes a special kind of human to accomplish. You need to be indifferent to social norms. You come in as you are and act the way you are. You expect locals to help you because you are a tourist. These tourists bumble into a mosque in their white shorts, shoes, bug eyed mirrored sunglasses and vigorously tap one of the kneeling worshipers on the shoulder and ask where the toilets are.

I know this is not you because if you was then you would not be reading this - which is fortunate because the under prepared travel can not experience the real Prague.

The Over Prepared Traveler Needs to Know Everything About Prague Before They Arrive (this might be you)

Before departure the over prepared traveler visits their local library and spends the afternoon reading everything they can get their hands on about the destination. They study maps, talk to friends and send emails to the embassy.

They end up knowing more about the destination than the locals. They know the history, the culture, when the barbarians invaded and the name of the president’s current mistress. It is an obsession - they scoop it all up. What use to be uncle Bob’s aimless stories about his bohemian trip to Prague in 1962 suddenly become spellbinding.

By finding this website you are, at least in a small way, a prepared traveler. You are researching Prague so that when you arrive you will know how old the Charles Bridge is and how much metro tickets costs. You want to avoid surprises, you want to know some of the history, you are attempting to avoid the awkwardness of being shouted at by an offended grandmother.

Go ahead keep studying, you have a lot to learn. Prague has been around for a long time. And because it surrendered to the Germans (thanks to the non-help of England) even before World War II started, it has remained one of the best preserved cities in Europe - almost no bombs were dropped except by mistake the American Air Force dropped a few bombs thinking it was Dresden. Prague is the heart of Europe, once the seat of the Holy Roman Empire, the city with the first University, and if you dig deep enough you will even find that vampires were buried here.

The prepared travel has a better chance of experiencing the real Prague than the underprepared but at some point you just need to put the books down and come. What is bare minimum that you need know?

What Do You Really Need To Know Prague To Experience the Real Prague?

Prague is safe and the locals are kind to tourists. Don't worry about breaking some obscure unwritten cultural rules because there really are none besides common sense. If you come across a narrow alley with no tourists - go down it. If you notice a restaurant with only locals go inside.

If you feel like you need to know a little more than that here is a general list about Prague or if you need history here is a little Prague history: a story of bad times and good times.

Did I bring you pleasure? :)

I hope you find this website helpful. I created the website because I love Prague, I enjoy writing about it, and I get a weird kick out of helping you make your trip to Prague more enjoyable.

I wrote a book about local travel in Prague. The book is my pride, my joy, my unbiological offspring. It was written with a passionate heart. If you find this website helpful consider getting my book full of useful tips that will instil in you the confidence to wander the local streets of Prague. The book is included in the popular (proud to say over 1000 sold) Prague Local Explore Kit.

Thank you,
Roman : Prague 2023

Prague Local Travel Kit